What Are Graded Readers?
Why Should You Use Them?
For me when I’m learning a language, the two most important things are input and speaking. It might sound simple and it kind of is.
I try and take in as much input as I can; learning words, grammar, sentence structures. Then as soon as I have a basic level I start speaking as much as I can, literally at every possible opportunity. And I turn my life into that language.
In order to learn a language you need to live that language:
- You need to speak it
- You need to hear it
- You need to watch it
- You need to write it
- You need to READ it
I am a big believer in speaking the language. For me that is the thing that helps me gain confidence and advance in a language.
But in order to do that you need to have words to speak and you need to have some form of input. If you don’t have the input, you can’t speak it.
Now if you’re like me, you can’t just sit down and learn list after list of vocabulary. With no context, it’s meaningless. You need a better way to remember new vocabulary.
One of my favourite way to take in new vocabulary is through reading. I love reading anyway. I read every day. So to combine my love of reading and my love of languages is perfect.
But for ages the books that I read were just a bit too hard for me. I tried reading Harry Potter because I thought the story would be familiar but it was too tricky. I tried reading loads of books in foreign languages that I thought would be interesting but were just too difficult.
And if something is too difficult for you, or it’s above your level, you’re not going to enjoy it. And if you don’t enjoy it you won’t stick to it.
What you need is something accessible to you. You need something that isn’t too hard but something you find fun, interesting and engaging.
You need stories that you can enjoy, but more importantly that you can understand and can engage with.
And for me, that’s graded readers.
For me graded readers are the perfect way to boost your Spanish, make it more natural and give you more input.
And to do this in a way that you can remember. And in a way that is fun.
Graded readers are designed to tell you stories to your level, So if you’re B1 Spanish, A2 French or HSK5 Chinese, you should be able to find books that have been written specifically for your level.
To help you enjoy the story but to help you improve your language learning at a level that matches your ability, rather than something you struggle with and that becomes a chore.
When I started reading graded readers I noticed a huge change in my language learning. Before that trying to read in a foreign language made me feel bad, but graded readers gave me confidence.
Benefits of graded readers:
- Fun stories
- Grammar structures that match your level
- Usually short so you don’t get bored
- Vocab you usually know, with added vocab to help with input
- Relatively cheap, especially on amazon!
- Help reading in your new language become more natural
- A lot of writers are language learning too, so they understand what’s useful for you
Yes, ideally you’d be reading Harry Potter or The Hunger Games in the language you’re learning, and that is a great goal. But if it’s too difficult for you, it doesn’t matter how much you love the story. You won’t love reading the book if you can’t understand it.
While you are learning graded readers are a great way to give you a confidence boost and give you some really useful language input. And a great way to get you loving reading in a foreign language.
So set yourself Harry Potter or The Hunger Games as your goals. Pick your favourite books in the world and think, that is where I want to get to, that is what I want to be able to do. But use graded readers to get yourself there.
Our graded readers and recommendations
If you’re looking to learn a foreign language then we have a selection of graded readers available for learners of Spanish and English and we also have a section dedicated to our recommended Chinese graded readers. Take a look here:
I could not recommend them more.
If you have read any graded readers that you’ve really enjoyed, then please tell us about them in the comments below so we can check them out.
We hope you enjoy our recommendations, and please don’t hesitate to let us know what you think.